One library (… insert as needed … ) to rule them all …

At the moment we are reviewing aspects of our subject guides on our library website – a project that is considering the use of Libguides. Seeing Anali Perry’s Scholarly Communication page on Arizona State University Libraries’  site got me thinking that maybe the Libguides software could be used to create a bunch of pages rather than just subject guides orientated at students. Brian Mathews takes this further when he asks Why not use LibGuides as your Content Management System? In this post he makes a further leap and explores the idea that academic library websites will eventually utilise a “universal design”:

I imagine in ten years there will be a definitive design that we will all use or purchase. Our sites will go the way of research guides. We all use to approach these differently, but then came LibGuides and the rest is history. (1200+ libraries in 25 countries use LibGuides—why aren’t you?) It seems that everyone is using this product these days—why develop your own clunky system when you can have something that looks slick and is easy for both patrons and content managers? In a matter of a few years LibGuides has quickly emerged as the solution for how we package resources by subject.

 So… what about a common Content Management System for us all? Drupal seems to be gaining traction—but it is a huge investment in terms of up-front time and expertise. I’m not ripping on it—it’s what we’re moving into but… what about just using LibGuides instead? What if we just used the LibGuides template for our entire library website rather than just as a wrapper for subject guides

I take a leap of my own now onto the subject of public libraries. Several public libraries in New Zealand have, or intend to, collaborate and use the same library system in a co-operative fashion. How far could we extend this? At the moment in New Zealand many local authorities are seeking to impose additional fees on library users which  threatens the concept of an accessible public library service. Would it be feasible to really strengthen the “library brand” and completely turn the idea of public library governance on its head. Shift the responsibility of the provision of public libraries from local to central government with consistent service delivery, fees, and sharing of resources across one mega-system. (Yep, the chances of central govt wanting to pick up that tab are zero, given that they consistently seek to devolve services to local government!). But could we be doing more of this ourselves? Working collaboratively on issues such as service standards, assessing the impact of our services and marketing messages for instance? What if everyone in New Zealand could have one library card they could use in any public library? How far would be willing to go to strengthen (and protect) the brand “library”?

Palmerston North City Library to run focus groups

Palmerston North City Library are running some focus groups as:

part of a community profiling project to help paint a picture of how the city’s library services should be developed over the next 3-10 years.

They are specifically looking for people from the following groups:

  • Residents of Palmerston North City who seldom or never use the library or its services
  • Regular visitors who use the library’s resources, but do not borrow items
  • Tertiary students
  • Regular users of the Library’s Cyber-Space

I’ll be interested to see how the exercise goes, and what they end up doing with the information. Could make a great LIANZA conference session I think!

ALA’s “Advocating in a tough economy toolkit”

What a great idea this toolkit from the ALA is – so I decided to give it its own post! It:

contains resources and tools, including newsclips, op-eds and statistics to help library supporters make the case for libraries in tough economic times.

It includes material on: libraries and the economy, making the case, outreach to patrons and the public, talking to the media, working with government officials and legislators and staging a rally.

Strikes me libraries (especially public libraries) in New Zealand could do with something similar – so many of us have had to, or will have to, gather together material at very short notice to make a case for library services for one reason or another. I don’t think LIANZA has a resource like this already?

Library Survivor

Thje second trend marketing trend being followed by Alison Circle on her Bubble Room blog is responding to the economy. Circle talks about an idea for libraries  in harsh economic times – utilising after school homework help centres during the day as job help centres. 

 I’ve also spotted:

  • a report in a Milwaukee newspaper that libraries benefits are being rediscovered during the economic downturn
  • the editorial from the New Zealand Listener earlier this year that talks about the importance of libraries in times of economic hardship

 

Duncan McLachlan (Library Life, Dec 2008) has outlined 6 marketing ideas libraries can utilise to survive the economic downturn themselves. These include:

  • know your customers better and double your efforts with your ‘frequent flyers’
  • show your family values because they match the prevailing mood
  • adjust your services to value-for-money options
  • spend more on promotion not less – but simplify it
  • be quick and responsive
  • go for market share

You can read Duncan’s full column in the PDF version of Library Life, which is available to non-members, just jump to page 14.